Tragedy can make or break a person, and Nyle Dolera has chosen to use his life experiences to better his community.
In June 2011, Dolera was on his way to his mother’s funeral service when wife Vicky suffered a major brain hemorrhage at the age of 43. The couple’s daughter Hannah was only 7 years old when her mother passed away.
The passing of his wife meant Dolera was the sole caretaker of his severely autistic daughter (pictured).
“All of my dreams vanished in a few minutes,” say Dolera, who retired from the Honolulu Police Department in 2011.
Vicky was planning to go back to work, which left Dolera open to stay home to watch Hannah. The couple also was planning to move to Hawaii Island.
Dolera had to learn how to provide 24/7 care for his daughter, who wore a protective helmet and was on a special diet.
“My life was kind of spinning out of control,” he explains.
Hannah was on daily medication – nine pills in the morning and nine in the afternoon. Dolera also was responsible for getting her ready for school and helping control her sleep patterns.
“Sometimes she would never sleep,” he says, noting that Hannah always was full of energy. “I was really dying. It was rough.”
Thankfully, he met Dr. Jennifer Dustow, who over the course of two years helped Hannah make tremendous behavioral progress. Hannah no longer needed to wear diapers, she got on a regular sleep schedule, stopped wearing her protective helmet and harness, and more.
“The bottom line is that she (Dustow) gave me my daughter back,” he says. Dustow bought an old church on Lanai, where she wanted to open a preschool for kids with autism. Dolera decided to back her up. Through countless hours of hard work and dedication, Cornerstone Educational Preschool was born.
“I wanted to help her because she helped me,” he explains.
While the preschool has come to fruition, Hannah will neither get to see the results nor attend the school in Lanai, an island that her dad says she loved so much. Hannah passed away this past Christmas.
As board member and director of fundraising for Cornerstone Educational Pre-school, Dolera’s main area of focus is coordinating events to raise money for the preschool.
His most recent project comes in the form of a golf tournament, slated for Feb. 28 at Mililani Golf Club. A shotgun start sets off at 11:30 a.m., and Dolera says any help is more than welcome. Those interested in lending a hand can call him at 397-1288.
“I decided to dedicate this golf tournament in her memory because she’s very much a part of the school,” he says. “This is in memory of my daughter. I cannot stop now.”